Study: Retention, Recognition, Engagement Are Hallmarks of Custom Publishing

August 14, 2007

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Most recipients of custom publications read them – and consequently have more familiarity with and more favorable impressions of the sponsoring organizations – according to a new study on readership and effectiveness conducted by Readex Research for the Custom Publishing Council (CPC).

The demographic profile of the survey respondents – all of them recipients of custom publications - reveals the diverse audience of the medium:

  • The typical respondent is older (median age of 53), but all age groups were represented, including 16% who are under 35.
  • Both genders are well represented (59% female, 39% male) as are all education levels (51% are college graduates, 18% with advanced degrees).
  • Median household income among respondents is $69,000.

Highlighted survey results:

  • Overall, respondents prove to have a high degree of engagement with custom publications:
    • 79% recall receiving the publications.
    • 77% of recipients read at least one-fourth or more of a typical issue, including 33% reading all or almost all of it.


    • On average, recipients spend 43 minutes reading or looking through a custom publication issue.


    • The average rate of pass-along among all recipients is to 0.9 others, nearly doubling the reach of these publications
  • Custom publications tend to inspire action:
    • 74% of recipients said they have taken at least one action in the last 12 months as a result of reading or looking through the publications
    • This includes 23% who made a purchase from or donation to the sponsoring organization, and 18% who recommended the sponsoring organization to others.


  • Opinions of custom publications on various attributes are generally high. Large majorities indicated the publications are…
    • Attractive / professional looking (82%)
    • Credible (75%)
    • Informative (73%)
  • Recipients were also asked to rate how useful they find the information presented in these custom publications: 56% gave high ratings, compared with 12% who gave low ratings.
  • The high opinion for the custom publications extends to the organizations that sponsor them. More than half of recipients agree that the publications…
    • Give them a more favorable impression of the organization (77%)
    • Make them aware of products and services from the sponsoring organization they previously didn’t know about (74%)
    • Present information about the sponsoring organization not found elsewhere (73%)
    • Make them more likely to make purchases from or make a donation to the sponsoring organization (52%)

Asked what one method provides the most informative and reliable information about products and services offered by the sponsoring organization, 46% of respondents indicated a newsletter/magazine such as the custom publication. The next highest mention was indicated by about half as many: direct mail letters or brochures (24%). No other method was indicated by more than 5% of recipients.

“The results of this survey confirm the findings of recent CPC-sponsored Roper surveys of consumers and chief marketing officers – that custom publishing is an effective way for companies to increase their profile and recognition with the public while providing clients with useful information that they value,” said Lori Rosen, Executive Director of the CPC.

About the study: The survey sample consisted of the circulations of 10 member publications. For each of the 10 studies, the sample was selected in systematic fashion by the publisher or sponsoring organization and Readex, from the domestic circulation. The estimated combined count of all 10 circulations is 3,912,815. The sample size was 750 for each publication, with the exception of one, which had an expanded sample size of 900, resulting in a total sample across all 10 publications of 7,650.

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